Craig Allen has praised a Yeppoon business for the decision by its owners to keep paying staff penalty rates.
Craig Allen has praised a Yeppoon business for the decision by its owners to keep paying staff penalty rates. Chris Ison ROK020516cmay17

Union boss hails Yeppoon business for brave staff move

THE union movement is hailing management at a Yeppoon business for looking after its staff.

Queensland Council of Unions Rockhampton secretary Craig Allen has urged locals to support Yeppoon coffee shop, Chapter after its owners committed to keep paying penalty rates to staff.

READ: Sunday penalty rates cuts to create Rocky region job opportunities.

READ: Yeppoon butchers surprised by insane support not to cut penalty rates.

While the Fair Work Commission and the Federal Government have supported gradual cuts to penalty rates for workers in the retail, hospitality and pharmacy sectors, Mr Allen said it was now up to business owners to decide whether they would pass on those cuts.

He claimed Chapter's decision would boost Yeppoon's economy.

Rhys and Sarah Davies, who own Yeppoon coffee shop Chapter.
Rhys and Sarah Davies, who own Yeppoon coffee shop Chapter.

"Their decision will not only benefit their employees, but will also support our whole community,” Mr Allen said.

"The owners of Chapter, one of the newest coffee shops in Yeppoon, know that their business relies on great staff and good coffee.

"That's why they have committed to maintain the current penalty rates for their employees regardless of cuts to the Award.

"We want people to show their support for these businesses - they deserve to know that their decision is a welcome one, that will mean more money will continue to be spent throughout our local economy.”

He said the decision to cut penalty rates could have vast unintended consequences by cutting the amount of money that could be spent in local shops, cafes and restaurants.

"It is literally the businesses themselves who might suffer as a result of cuts to penalty rates - we are asking them to support their staff, and support our community by maintaining penalty rates,” Mr Allen said.

"We know people feel strongly about this issue and are willing to support businesses like Chapter who are making the commitment to keep paying penalty rates - good on them.”

Chapter owner Rhys Davies said the decision was the right one for the business, which is now in its sixth week.

Mr Davies said when the new business started they chose what they thought was a fair wage for staff.

"We want our staff to be happy at work and outside of work too,” Mr Davies said.

"Pay is a massive thing.”

He said the shop currently employed four staff with one more to join the team soon.

But while, Mr Davies said the decision was right for his business, he wasn't critical of other businesses that went in a different direction.

He said he could understand other operations considering the option particularly if they had to employ 20 or 30 people on a weekend.

"We are in a position where we can do it.”

He said customers were also supportive of the decision.

Meanwhile, Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said the adjustments to Sunday penalty rates would even the playing field for Capricornia's small businesses.

Ms Landry said these businesses had to pay more for staff on Sundays "than big businesses who do deals with unions like QCU”.

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry says changes to Sunday penalty rates will help many small businesses.
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry says changes to Sunday penalty rates will help many small businesses. Allan Reinikka ROK120517ajoyce5

"As we heard from businesses at the Yeppoon Small Business Roadshow last week, reducing the cost of doing business will help keep their doors open, serve customers and create jobs on Sundays,” Ms Landry said.

"QCU is failing to understand the struggles of small business to keep their doors open.

"It is important to note that the Commission's decision does not affect all workers - it affects 3-4% of Australia's workforce.

"It is a direct consequence of the review process put in place by Bill Shorten as Workplace Relations Minister in the previous Labor government in 2013.

"Throughout this process the Fair Work Commission has cited many examples of small business owners who work on Sundays for free, but would rather hire staff, or businesses that would provide services on Sundays but cannot because of penalty rate levels.”

She provided the following examples, for permanent full-time and part-time staff on Sundays:

  • A bed and breakfast must pay $10 an hour more than a 5-star hotel; 
  • A family chicken shop must pay $8 an hour more than KFC;
  • A family owned takeaway must pay $8 an hour more than McDonalds;
  • A family pizza takeaway must pay $8 an hour more than Pizza Hut;
  • A family greengrocer must pay $5 an hour more than Woolworths.


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